Meet May’s Volunteer of the Month: Alli Dunn


May 5, 2016


1. How did you first get involved with 826NYC and why did you decide to volunteer?

In all of my time working in education in New York City, I have spent most of it in the absence of kids. It’s even more absurd sounding as I read it over.

I was feeling extraordinarily hypocritical, working in education and relying on my own experiences to help me identify with, and ultimately support NYC students. #adultfail

I frankly don’t remember when 826 came onto my radar, but when I finally had the chutzpah to make a professional change, I took the opportunity to spend some time in the Secret Library on Tuesdays afternoons, relearning how to multiply improper fractions, and catching a rare glimpse at the successful utilization of the Twizzler straw.

2. What’s your favorite part of volunteering at 826NYC?

826 seems to catch kids early, and supports them through their growing years, which I guess I’ve now been a part of now too. To see the students come back after school breaks a little taller, with a new best friend, and an even more despised arch nemesis, is truly incredible. Perhaps selfishly, I feel grateful to play a small role in their stories as people.

3. What do you do when you’re not at 826NYC?

I have worked in education in New York City for over seven years. In my past life, I worked for the New York City Department of Education in a variety of roles, and spent most of my time there as the Director of Communications for the Office of Student Enrollment where I managed outreach and communications to support school choice in Pre-K through High School. I now manage the New York City hub for a non-profit organization called 4.0 Schools, a community of educators who are invested in changing the future of school through the development of schools and learning spaces.

4. What advice would you give a new volunteer?
Don’t think of your role as only academic support. As a volunteer for 826NYC, you are given a brief, but important opportunity to make kids feel confident, supported, and delighted. You are not their parents, their teachers, nor are you their friend – you are someone who is uniquely positioned to be a model for bringing joy back into their education. As a volunteer, you can challenge kids to pretend (even if they say they’re too old), or help them to imagine a character before they write a story (even if they say they don’t want to), or teach them to find inspiration from everyday objects (even if they think it’s weird). You have a chance to not only help a kid continue to be a kid, but relive some of the great things about being a kid as an adult.

5. What are your superpowers?

I have been known to consume mass quantities of nachos in a single seating.